Saturday, October 31, 2020

Gender Bias in Describing Western Facing Puerh Vendors

There has long been a joke in Western puerh circles that almost all Western puerh vendors and drinkers alike are made up of Western (often white) males married to Oriental females.  Yunnan Sourcing has Scott and Xiao Yao, The Essence of Tea has David and YingXi, Crimson Lotus Tea has Glen and Lamu, there are likely others...  I suspect there are likely many others as well where the Western male is the English voice of the business but the oriental wife probably does lots behind the scenes, in these instances they are just not as publicized.  Bucking the trend is Linda Louie at Bana Teas who perhaps is the only female Western facing puerh-centric vendor as well.

I’m unsure what I want to say about that or how that might be a reflection of the Western puerh drinking scene… but I can say that this formulaic make up of most Western vendors likely has rather unconsciously influenced and formed the current puerh drinking community / culture / created the stereotypical puerh drinker (see mbanu comment) in the West.

One of the things that I personally want to apologize about and something that has been on my mind for quite a while is my tendency to refer to these companies with the male owner exclusively (Example “Scott at Yunnan Sourcing” “David of Essence of Tea”).  How many times have you heard this bias being perpetuated in the Western puerh drinking scene?  For me it is too many and I really wanted to say something about that and at the very least say “I’m sorry” for doing that in the past.

Another thing that I caught myself doing (and that I apparently did above) and really everyone else does this and I’ve never read it or heard it any other way… When the couple is listed together the white male is always listed first followed by the Chinese woman.  I know that a lot of people are going to be thinking when reading this is that is simply the current convention- list he man first then the woman.  However, I reject this passive explanation. 

So I looked into the proper way to list couples to see if there is some conventional way of writing this in the English language.  Actually, there used to be a time when men and woman had the same family name after marriage the woman would be listed before the man.  The reason was because in matters of social correspondence women were more important traditionally.  I never knew any of these old English conventions!  It turns out that there really isn’t any proper way to list couples in English these days because these old conventions are no longer followed.  Often, I have read, it is simply the one you are closest to that is listed first.

I wonder if there is such a convention in traditional Chinese culture?  In traditional Taoist thought, the order that things are written indicate the order of importance.  Is Scott more important than Xiao Yao at Yunnan Sourcing?  Probably not.  Is David more important than YingXi?  Nope. 

Recently, there was some who took issue with another gender related issue in the puerh world- “The Mom Test”.  Although, I think discussions about this were interesting I kind of feel that there are maybe some deeper and longer running gender inequality issues in the Western puerh world.  I got to thinking about when and why that naming convention really started (listing the male exclusively or the male before the female)… I think part of the issue is that the white male was doing most of the communication to the English Western facing world so naturally the connection was made with him and then it was natural to list him first when writing the couples name.  Maybe when the correspondence is done in Chinese maybe they use Xiao Yao’s name first? Or Ying Xi name before David’s?  I don’t know this.

I also don’t exactly know when Xiao Yao and Scott became partners or when David began signing the website and emails with “David and XingXi (Kathy)” but I don’t believe that they were doing that when they started their businesses so I understand it isn’t completely an issue on my side of things.  Either way, I think it’s fair to say that the part the Chinese woman play in these businesses are likely just as important as the contributions of the Western male so it’s probably about time that we recognize and acknowledge that by referring to the owners together.

I’m sorry for the times in this blog that I have not.



Saturday, October 24, 2020

white2tea “Small Batch” Shu Marketing & Selling Dreams



I have a good friend who is actually dying of terminal cancer.  He is one of the only people I have actually turned onto puerh tea who is native to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  He is also one of the top new car sales people in Western Canada.  One of the first questions I ever asked him was how exactly he sells so many new cars every year when most people already have perfectly drivable cars at home and they really don’t need a new car.  His answer…

 “Matt, I don’t sell cars, I sell dreams.”

Isn’t All Puerh “Small Batch”?

Oxford dictionary defines “small batch” as Designed or relating to a type of small-scale production in which goods are made in limited quantities, often by means of traditional or artisanal methods.

Wait a minute… every Western puerh vendor’s raw puerh would meet this definition of “small batch”…. Every one… yes all Western puerh facing puerh vendors would then be considered “small batch”.  Look at this last post… David stated that his 2020 Tian Men Shan and Lao Jie Zi were around 10KG productions.  And look Tiago is producing a 4Kg production of Autumnal puerh… look at the puerh Yunnan Sourcing is producing most of it is 10KG, 50KG of puerh… all of that, meets the definition of small scale production compared to Big Factory productions or even larger boutique puerh vendors in mainland China and a lot of these other Western puerh Vendor’s puerh productions will actually be smaller than many white2tea productions.  So even though most sheng puerh productions from Western puerh vendors can be called “small batch” they simply choose not to use this marketing language.  However, we are talking about sheng puerh here and not shu…

Paul decided to come out in front by creating his own definition and marketing terminology catch phrases long before “small batch shu” was released to the customer.  For many months now Paul has been repeating the marketing key word over and over and over again on his social media.  Basically, the definition of “small batch shu” was a complete fabrication of white2tea and was created to be inclusive of his product while excluding the competitors’ shu productions.  No doubt he did this to differentiate the shu puerh white2tea sells from the shu puerh the competition sells.  It’s actually pretty brilliant.  One thing it most definitely does is put a wedge between white2tea and the pretty successful shu puerh productions of Yunnan Sourcing.

Over the last few years Yunnan Sourcing has been way in front of white2tea as far as developing their own popular shu puerh productions which are all agrochemical free.  Some are blends and others single origin shu - some are even gushu productions.  However, It is my understanding that Yunnan Sourcing usually buys plied material.  Yunnan Sourcing leaves the overseeing of these piles to artisans who have been doing it for many years/ decades as opposed to overseeing the piling work themselves.  This is mainly where the differentiation of the product lies with white2tea vs Yunnan Sourcing shu puerh.  Does Yunnan Sourcing shu puerh productions still qualify as “small batch shu”?  Maybe/Probably.  I guess it depends on how you define “small batch shu” .  Is it a wiser decision to let artisans who have been making a shu puerh productions and piling them for decades to tend to the quality of such things vs learn the skill in a few years and go at it alone?  Maybe?  Or maybe not?  Who really knows… the only way to know for sure is to the cut the marketing crap and try the actual puerh.

Is batch size more relevant than location?

I also find it hypocritical or at the very least unusual that Paul of white2tea is adamant that the location/ terroir of the material is irrelevant to the end product yet he finds it very important to educate us about the size of the production.  Personally, I would rather know where the raw material is coming from and whether it is gushu, zhong shu, or xiao shu, or terrace, the town, village and mountain of such material rather than getting the fluffy “small batch shu” marketing that really tells me nothing of the actual material itself.  Wouldn’t you? 

Or maybe you find it more relevant to know how much Paul is caring for his shu piles?  I am not consuming the batch size (or the wrapper) but rather the tea itself.  So I would much rather know about the material.  Whether something is “small batch” or not matters much less than whether it actually tastes good.  In the end it’s about the end product and lucky for white2tea their shu has been really gaining popularity over the last year or so mainly because some of it is quite good others not as much... but apparently this is not “small batch shu” anyways.

Overall, I think that what white2tea is doing with shu “high end material” blends and “light/varied fermentation” is interesting and experimental and very forward thinking.  No doubt, to invent your own definition of something that is specific to what you are doing will save you from trying to continually describe it in longer terms.  I suppose that is part of what Paul is doing with his whole making up a definition thing.  Not too many people out there in the puerh world are doing much of this and Paul makes a really compelling argument for us to at least take notice of his direction of shu puerh production.  He has also dove head first into tackling some of the misconceptions about shu puerh and educating those new to shu puerh about some of the basics.  He is both educating the consumer about why they should buy and age shu while driving traffic to his site/products.  These are really well done articles as a whole.  He has aggressively sought to take back more market share from Yunnan Sourcing.  I hope it works out well for him.  And this is all coming from someone who really feels that shu puerh is not even really “original puerh” but rather an accepted evolution in the marketing of “puerh” throughout the years. 

The thing that I really can’t stomach is all the silly marketing that he has decided to attach to the whole thing.  Heck, he has even created an annual holiday to market his shu and to cue his followers to buy his shu.  It is actually quickly approaching called “Shulloween”…. Hahahhaha… good work.  That one always makes me laugh… its memorable and I think that’s the point… This year with all the “small batch shu” brew-ha-ha it should be extra festive.. 

It’s Just Shallow Marketing Language

If you Google “small batch marketing” you are quickly inundated by articles about car company Mitsubishi.  In 2019 Mitsubishi decided to start referring to its cars as “small batch” and market it as such.  Really they are just selling the same cars with the same features and made of the same materials but they simply re-framed the marketing on them and went with a trendy marketing phrase that really means very little.  To people who can see through the marketing it’s actually a bit sad.  In the end it’s just as if people aren’t actually selling product but are instead shilling marketing catch phrases …

…Or dreams…




Wednesday, October 21, 2020

2013 Puerist Ma Li Shu: East vs West Yibang

Where is Ma Li Shu?  I’ve heard of the place before… but where?  I think Yiwu?  But where in Yiwu…  Not sure… I will do a bit of research after sampling so this one is kind of blind sampling as far as the region goes.  This puerh is also no longer offered on the Puerist site…

Dry leaves smell of paper, woody, maple syrup and brown sugar… Smells delicious with some Xishuangbanna storage being likely here.

The first infusion has a woody maple syrup with a soft low pungency over a fuzzy full tingling mouthcoating.  There is a nice low laying and low cool pungent breath.  There is a nice fullness to the woody and sweet maple syrup tastes.  Part of this is an immediate deeper throat opening.

The second infusion has a more distinct and richer creamy woody sweetness.  There is a rich fullness to it and is accentuated by a long developing pungency and long sweet brown sugar finish that shares room with a distinct long candy finish.  The Qi in the body is really nice and smooth and has a penetrating euphoric effect on the mind.  This is a really nice puerh.

The third infusion has a slight sour astringent woody creamy brown surgar and maple syrup onset.  A cool pungency develops and pushes out candy and brown sugar and autumn woods tastes.  There is a sweet candy like finish that skirts through the long aftertaste.  The mouthfeel is really full soft and chalky tight and the throat pungency is mid-deep.  The overall package of this puerh is really full and satisfying and deeply penetrating.  The Qi and purity of this puerh is notable.  It feels so light and airy in the body and euphoric, soft and happy in the mind.

The fourth infusion has a rich maple syrup brown sugar sweetness with a certain autumn woodiness.  The coating in the mouth and throat is really full cottony thick almost silky oil.  There is a low deep pungency to the puerh that pushes a candy sweet taste long in the aftertaste.  The flavours are really thick and the profile nice and long.  Woody maple syrup.

The fifth is more sugar and candy with woody autumnal leaves.  There is that cool pungent underneath a full feeling taste and feel where a thicker cottony fullness is.  Long finish with sweet tastes.

The 6th has a creamy fruity sweetness at the onset now with layers of woods and mainly brown sugar sweetness.  The mouthfeel and throatfeeling is cottony full.  The long sweet taste is notable.  Long candy layered with brown sugar sweetness.  The Qi is deep penetrating and is becoming quite powerful in the mind pushing me into a high talkative euphoria.

7th is a woody brown sugar taste with just a touch of sour and emerging pungency that pushes a long candy with brown sugar on the breath.  The aftertaste is developing some spicy almost cinnamon notes in the brown sugar.  Very tasty.  Qi is very deep.  A full cottony mouthfeeling.

8th infusion has an almost ghostly fruity taste and almost vegetal taste within brown sugar and wood tastes.  The cooling pushes out layered sweetness deeper in the throat.  The Qi is active strong and euphoric but quite warming in the Chest.

9th infusion has a woody almost fruity sweetness and an almost vegetal taste.  There is an almost brown sugar cinnamon pungency in the long aftertaste.  The mouthfeeling has a tingle to it.  Alerting and euphoric Qi sensation.

10th infusion has an almost fruity taste over a woody and almost vegetal almost sugar base taste.  The mouthfeel is flattening out a bit. 

11th is a 10 second added to flash steeping… and gives off a vegetal almost fruity flat kind of sugar sweetness with a vegetal woody base.  The cool pungency is diminished now.

12th is a cool cup and give off some creamy almost fruity vegetal sweetness with a longer cooling slow moving sweetness that is more creamy candy sweet but mild.  Qi is more relaxing focused euphoria.

13th has a fruity vegetal onset with a flat sugar taste over a sandy flat tongue coating.  There is still a mild but longer pungent coolness with faint long creamy fruity finish.

14th has a candy vegetal mild onset with a low long pungency and a sticker mouthcoating.  Nice tingling tongue coating.

I mug steep out the rest…. And it gives off bitter vegetal woody bark tastes with a tight mouthfeeling.  There is a bitter sweet long slight pungent dominating and aftertaste.  Very nice stong Qi still here.

Okay… so I google to see where exactly Ma Li Shu is… ahhh… Yibang… I can see that now.  Especially the Qi is classic euphoric Yibang powerhouse and small leaf.  This puerh has a wonderful feature of a long candy maple syrup aftertaste that lingers deep in the throat as well.  This is very good Gushu puerh.  In some ways this is more woody and layered sweet but with less astringency that typically comes with Yibang puerh.

To be more specific, Ma Li Shu is actually from West Yibang.  Mark Turner had mentioned to me that many believe that the quality of tea in general from West Yibang is better than East Yibang these days.  Although, he says, places with the best quality in East Yibang command astronomical prices.  Interesting thoughts from someone who really knows his puerh!


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

2019 Zheng Si Long Autumn Mang Zhi: Marketing Budget Single Origin Puerh

Okay, I know Tiago and me are both strong believers of the benefits of full size puerh cakes.  But, let’s be honest… there are also many advantages to offering Xiao Bings too.  Maybe one of the biggest advantages is that a cake can be had at a much lower buy in price.

Okay, I know Tiago and me are both strong believers of the benefits of Spring cakes.  But, let’s be honest… there are also many advantages to offering Autumn puerh too.  Maybe one of the biggest advantages is that a cake can be had at a much lower buy in price.

Okay, I know I kind of just repeated myself there.  But you can see where I am going with this right? The combo of xiao bing with Autumn production makes for a really affordable option for those who can’t afford or don’t want to spend the money on fresh puerh these days.  Zheng Si Long offers a solid Yiwu single origin puerh experience for those who wish to explore single regions on the cheap all the while having your very own cake which is kind of fun.

Tiago sent me a complimentary sample for review of one of these autumnal 2019 Zheng Si Long- the 2019 Zheng Si Long Autumn Mang Zhi($46.47 for 200g cake or $0.23/g).  I imaged he probably sent this one because he knows I really enjoy the Zheng SiLong Mang Zhi and also because I think the 2016 is a pretty solid Autunal puerhfor the price

Dry leaves smell of creamy, woody, florally, fruity complex odour that is not particularly strong but complex.

First infusion starts with a pondy woody watery onset with hay notes underneath.  There is a clear vegetal base to this first infusion almost rubbery woody and almost floral.  Not that much sweetness.  The mouthfeel starts to fill up with a rubbery squeaky kind of feeling.

The second infusion starts with a very present woody taste slight rubbery woody and almost a woody floral type of finish.  The mouthfeel is full and squeaky.  There is a puckering full sensation in the mouth with a very faint floral, not that much sweetness.  The cooled cup is a floral orange creamy butter sweetness over a vegetal base.  The Qi comes off pretty relaxing.

The third infusion has a lime fruit sour orange woody floral taste.  There is some complexity coming out in the taste with sour, salty, and not quite sweet notes emerging here.  The taste is both interesting and enjoyable and ends in a faint sugary woody floral cream woody.  The mouthfeeling is a bit sandy and soft not too full with a vacuous throat.  The Qi is relaxing to the point of zoning out chill.

The fourth has a jazzy fruity perfume woody strong condensed initial taste.  The base is woody and vegetal there is a sugar sweetness in the finish with a fruity sweet layering.  The mouthfeeling is chalky with sticky lips.

The fifth infusion has a woody slight bitter juicy condensed fruity perfume onset.  The initial tastes kind of drops leaving a vegetal and woody base and some floral tastes with a faint sugar.  The mouthfeeling is a thick chalky coating not much of anything really goes on in the throat. 

The sixth infusion has a chalky floral orange fruit taste over a vegetal woody base flavor.  The initial taste is a spark of tastes then it fades into a creamy sweet almost orange creamsicle flavor over woody vegetal taste.  The mouthfeeling is thin chalky and the throat is empty.

The seventh infusion has a mild bitter wood with vegetal and faint orange floral underneath.  The mouthfeeling is a chalky thin puckering with a cottony full finish.  It finishes vegetal and almost creamy sweet. There is lots of flavor here for sure just not as much mouthfeeling and absent of much throatfeeeling.  The Qi is quite mild and relaxing almost hazy in the mind.

The eighth infusion has a woody slight bitter onset with sour orange and floral finish.  The dense flavor over stimulating mouthfeeling are enjoyable.  There is also a metallic taste developing in the mouth over a flat sticky dry thin mouthfeeling.  Hazy mild relaxing downer Qi on this overcast day- my mind feels overcast.

The ninth infusion has a bitter woody onset that quickly leaves an orange sour sweetness behind in the tight chalky thin mouthcoating.  There is a vegetal bitter woodiness underneath.  A cool cup is more creamy sweet woody slight orange sour savory taste.  The taste is complex and interesting but has little to root on a thin tight chalky mouthfeeling and empty throatfeeling.   Relaxing.

The 10th has a woody slight bitter orange not that creamy floral taste.  It’s like all the interesting flavours come at the same time and don’t stick around much but that initial blast is really nice.  Flat tight full coating.

The 11th infusion has a sour sweet orange woody vegetal taste.  Tight slight chalky full mouthfeeling.  Relaxing Qi.  This puerh is very stable throughout the infusions.  I like the interesting burst of flavours here- bitter, savory, and sour.

`12th has a watery, vegetal, slight bitter orange taste with some woody almost coco base woody profile.  There is a grain/ hay subtle nuance that pops up in the aftertaste minutes later. 

I mug steep out the rest and it gives off thick olive vegetal slight bitterness with a wood-floral nuance.  The taste is still quite concentrated and give me a calm alert feeling inside.

I overnight steep it and it is actually quite complex in flavor the next day with chalky, woody, creamy sweet, fruity, bitter, lots of tastes in there over a thick full chalkiness.  The fruitiness is quite long in the mouth and lingers for a long time.  It’s interesting that the gongfu had not much aftertaste where the overnight steeping of the spent leaf had lots of aftertaste which tells me that it will grow into its aftertaste as it ages a bit more.

Overall, this Autumn Mang Zhi offers a dense complex burst of varied tastes initially that fade quickly but are quite satisfying and thick when they arrive all at once.  Like a big blast of flavor and then quick fade.  This aspect is nice and enjoyable.  There isn’t much for either length of taste, aftertaste, nor is there much throatfeeling.  The Qi is a relaxing hazy mind effect.  In the end I liked the contrast between flavor bursts and relaxing haze.  I still think a much better Autumal Mang Zhi is the 2016 Zheng Si Long Autumn Mang Zhi offered at Tea Encounter that was selected by Tiago after a wider sampling of Zheng Si Long Autumal productions over the years.  Still this is a solid autumnal puerh single origin puerh for its 2020 price- if that is what you are looking for.  I enjoyed it.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Xiao Bing Advantage

In the past I have really come down hard on the Xiao Bing (“Small Cake” 250g-100g) in favour of the larger style old school sized puerh cakes (357g-500g even 1KG!).  I did this mainly for the sake of debate, a statement on marketing, and as a historical perspective. I still much prefer this larger size as it fits my budget, philosophy about aging, and drinking needs much better than the xiao bing does.  I love the larger classic puerh cake size hands down.  But let’s be perfectly honest, there are many advantages of the much loved Xiao Bing too!

There are a lot of people out there where the larger size bing will not make sense for them.  I can understand this.

Lower buy in Price The biggest and most important benefit of the xiao bing is that it offers those who might not have the money or don’t want to spend large amounts of money on puerh to acquire a cake.  Shouldn’t anyone regardless of spending power be given a reasonable option to have their very own cake of puerh???  The experience of unwrapping a puerh cake from its unusual folded paper wrapper and having to pry off some tea is a special one.  Can you remember what it was like to unwrap your first cake of puerh and marvel at all the nefi and inner tickets, and ponder where you should pull off the material from the cake to brew up your first pot?  Everyone, regardless of income/ or budgetary restrictions, should be afforded such pleasures.

The price of puerh is rising and will probably rise until global warming completely destroys the tea forests of Yunnan!  Arguing in favour of larger cakes that are inevitably more expensive (although might be the same price/gram) than smaller cakes is pretentious and exclusionary and shouldn’t be looked down upon for this reason.

Newer Puerh Drinkers People who are new to puerh and are kind of trying it out to see if they like puerh or who are trying to acquire a taste for puerh might be less intimidated with a smaller size especially if they don’t know if they even like puerh tea.  Of course, the more reasonable option would be to sample first but sometimes the price per gram of a 20g sample vs the same 200g cake can be significantly higher per/gram and if the other reasons stated here also make sense it might be an option.  Surely, it is better than a larger cake for someone who doesn’t even know if they like puerh?

Drink Now Puerh People who like to drink young puerh and don’t intend to age it or for vendors who are pressing puerh that is not really intended so much for aging as drinking now might benefit from a xiao bing vs a larger sized bing.  Really the biggest argument for the larger bing sizes is that it is better to age.  It offers less of a likelihood that you might drink right through a whole cake that you intended to age for much longer.  If it’s yummy when young and you have no willpower but you still have pipe dreams of aging it out, you will probably be better off with a larger Bing.  But if you are planning on drinking it fresh, don’t intend to age it, and will just buy new puerh next year to drink fresh, then a Xiao Bing all of a sudden sounds like the most sensible option for the drink now puerh drinker.  This is especially sensible if you like some variety and drink enough to warrant a few different Xaio bing from different areas, vendors, etc…

Those Who Drink the Wrapper  There are some people who feel that the art is a part of the puerh drinking esthetic or who are simply big time suckers for marketing gimmicks.  If you are one of these people than you can get more wrappers for less money in xiao bing form! Hahahha.. This is also true for those who like to tong… the tong people can get cheaper tongs!

More Precise Purchasing or Control Over How Much You Buy is a real strength of the xiao bing even for those people who might prefer a larger size bing (like myself).  Instead of buying in 357g/400g/500g/1Kg intervals you can really control how much you buy in 200g intervals.  It actually gives the puerh drinker more control over how many grams of puerh they purchase and therefore gives them more control over their purchase as a whole.  I have found for myself that I bought 3 xiao bings (600g total) when I might have normally went with 2 x 357g cakes.  But also I have never purchased 4 xiao bings because tong marketing simply gets the best of me and I go for the whole 1Kg tong.  Either way, I found the 600g of puerh a nice amount to age.  Alternatively, I have heard that Xiao Bing multiples can be real handy for puerh aging experiments!

Better Marketing and Sales for Puerh Vendors  Wrapper Marketing is better than sample package marketing- it simply looks much more appealing.  It seems like most vendors I talk to would rather sell full bings but marketing and sales suggest they make more money hawking xiao bings.  Often people mention that sticker shock is the main reason why xiao bings sell over full size bings.  I think there is probably a bit more to that.  Scott and Xiao Yao at Yunnan Sourcing, David and YingXi at the Essence Of Tea and Tiago at Tea Encounter have all stated outright that they love the larger size bings for a variety of reasons however they continue to sell fewer and fewer full size bings each year.  This year you can sense David and YingXi’s lamentations in the description of their only full size 2020 Spring offering this 2020 Essence of Tea Yiwu Jiu Miao.  Also of note is Tiago of Tea Encounter offering all of the 2020 SpringZheng Si Long in 200g and 400g sizes- why not have both???  If there is a market advantage in such things this might be the direction of the future.

Maybe there is hope for the large size bings afterall?


Sunday, October 4, 2020

Puerist “Made Round to Go Round” Mystery Dragon Ball! (2019 Puerist Naka)

Hey this is fun- a Dragon Ball!  I have no idea of providence nor age so this one is a mystery to me- a blind sampling.   It is the only suggestion of some marketing something, marketing anything really, from Mark Turner of Puerist!  OR maybe it is just simply a form of kindness?  We all need more kindness these days….

Dry leaves smell of faint dry woody barely sweet almost honey.

After a 30 second long rinse the wet leaves smell of a creamy sweet, floral woody bittery green fresh odour.  The material is likely from the last year.

The first infusion I do a 30 second steeping again with a woody candy floss long candy onset that evolves into a candy finish.  Did anyone say candy? This tastes and feels like Yiwu to me.  There is a watery slippery mouthfeeling and long candy over dry wood flavor with expansive sweet candy in the aftertaste after low pungent.

The second infusion is another 30 second steeping is a woody creamy sweetness with a dry woody base taste which starts sweet candy and ends in the mouth more candy.  There is a carrot/ raspberry almost woody vegetal edge that comes out in this infusion.  The mouthfeel is a bit slippery and slight gripping.  Not too much sensation in the mouth.  This infusion tastes more like Nannou to me.  There is also the faintest smoke that is almost unrecognizable and very faint astringency.  There is a long faint peachy almost woody taste even many minutes later.

The third infusion I go 25 seconds and it gives off… a thicker brothy soupy grassy type of sweetness that is thick and dense and overlapping with a moderate oily viscosity.  There is a floral and sweet peach that emerges from the dense soupy grassy woody tastes.  The mouthfeel is a moderately thick sandy sticky.  The Qi is felt a bit in the chest and makes the mind feel clear.  This infusion reminds me of Bada.

The fourth infusion is a 20 second infusion and delivers woody slight dirt grassy taste with sweet candy which expands in the mouth.  The grassy pondy soupy woody with candy.  There are nuances of dirt tastes almost coco with carrot like nuance.  The mouthfeeling is an almost tight sticky with a mild throat feeling and increasingly sticky lips.  The Qi is really mild and focusing with some Heart beats.

The fifth was a 10 second steep and has a buttery grassy woody taste with a underlying creamy candy sweetness that is highlighted more in the aftertaste.  The sweet candy and almost peach aftertaste has a slight woody almost astringent base.  There is a long peachy creamy woody sweetness minutes later.  The mouthfeel has a bit of pucker chalkiness even on the tongue and this sensation reaches deeper into the throat this infusion.

The sixth is a flash infusion for a while here and delivers very floral sweet highnoted melon and peachy floral sweetness.  This infusion has a really nice uninterrupted honeydew melon sweetness throughout, which is almost sugary at times.  The taste is draped over a soft but almost sandy not really puckering mouthfeeling and very mildly stimulates the top throat.  There is a mild fresh melon coolness at the finish.

The seventh infusion has a woody onset with distinct candy like sweetness.  There is a creamy fluffiness to the sweetness and long candy like taste that is definitely tasting very Yiwu.  The mouthfeeling has developed very nicely in to a fluffy sticky full feeling thing.  Qi is very mild and focuses the mind a bit.

The eighth infusion has a woody dirt carrot and candy taste to it.  There is a long sweet candy melon aftertaste over a woody base.  The mouthfeeling is nicely thickening with a sticky pucker and stimulating the throat to hold the candy aftertaste for a long time afterwards.  The Qi is mild and focusing.

The ninth infusion has a mild woody chalky woody not as sweet now kind of icing surgery sweetness.  There is a slight woody brackishness in the taste now and less elegance.  The mouthfeeling is sandier and almost dry with not much going on with throatfeeling, Qi or aftertaste now.

The 10th is still at flash but the liquor was left to cool and it gives off a simple woody almost maple syrup with expanding sweet taste.  The mouthfeel is sticky with slight sandy pucker fullness.  Mild alerting Qi.

11th has a woody buttery floral aspect to it the sweetness has a caramel edge to it now not the fruity sugary quality it had at the start of the session.  Soft chalky and slight sticky drying full mouthfeeling.  It still has a brown sugar finish now and a nice moderately oily texture.  Relaxing and focusing Qi.

12th has an orange peel creamy sweet almost caramel sweetness to it.  It ends in a caramel and fresh honeydew melon sweet finish.  There is a deeper mid throat opening here with longer nuanced sweet melon and caramel aftertaste.  The mouthfeeling is more of a moderate-mild chalkiness with a relaxing mild Qi.

13th has an orange peeling almost orange coco chocolate taste with an emerging creamy almost floral orange blossom sweetness with a longer caramel finish.  The throat is opening deeper here with a nice chalky mouthcaoting.  Almost floral orange caramel finish in the mouth.  These last infusions have been really smooth and enjoyable.

14th This infusion has more coco orange peel slight bitterness with a more gripping mouth and throat feeling.  There is less sweetness here and more of a dirt woody coco. 

15th infusion has a pondy grassy soupy woodiness almost a grassy sweetness.  There is only faint sweet edges left over a sandy sticky mouthfeeling.  Mild relaxing qi.

16th infusion has a bitter woody taste that is almost coco and not really peachy floral.  I leave the session here only to come back a mug steep out the leaves tomorrow during the work day…

The grandpa steeping of the spent leaves should be quite powerful because the leaf hasn’t completely unraveled from the small tight compact ball shape completely.

The leaves are a bitter woody almost coco and a bit of spice peppery pungency.  There is a coolness in the throat but not that much fruity sweet left - just some on the edges.  As the mug cools more of a floral bitter dirt almost sweet pear and orange taste almost jasmine taste develops.

Conclusion, this production is likely 2018/ 2019 and has some qualities from Yiwu, Bada, and Nannou.  I am left wondering if it is a blend of different regions?  I enjoyed this easy drinker.  What goes ‘round comes ‘round.

Thanks again Mark!


Edit: I was informed by Mark Turner of Puerist that these Dragon Balls are of the same material as the 2019 Puerist Naka “Middle Aged” (Zhong Shu) which goes for approximately$38.00 for 200g cake or $0.19/g when converting back from Canadian currency.  Which makes it a really solid budget single area puerh.  This Naka isn’t as powerful in Qi as more expensive Naka but its flavor is complex enough that I thought this one might be a blend so that says a bit about its quality for the price.  Another interesting thing about this puerh is that it is the first that I know of that is marketed as “Zhong Shu” or middle aged trees (between Xiao Shu and Gu Shu).  I wonder if other vendors will use this marketing in the future?




Saturday, October 3, 2020

2018 Puerist Wa Long GuoYouLin: Ethereal… yet strong!

Alright this is the one that started it all… I have had my eyes on this one for a while and after a recommendation here I blind caked a few…

This 2018 Puerist Wa Long GuoYouLin goes for $178.00 for200g cake or $0.89/g which is a bit more expensive than the 2020 Tea Encounter WaLong GuoYouLin which really got the conversation going on this one.  I do like the Tea Encounter Wa Long and, in a general sense most Wa Long I have tried so how could this one be any different…

Dry leaves smell of a deep woody, slightly spicy sweetness.

First infusion has a smooth long candy taste from start to finish.  There is a long deep soft pungent coolness.  Overall a very pure candy like start.  With a bit of a juicy and viscus body.  There is a fruity taste in the mouth minutes later that emerges with an icing sugar sweetness.  This breath taste lasts minutes later.

The second infusion has a medicinal woody onset that is almost licorice it pushes a sweetness into the mouth and deeper into the throat of a candy like taste.  The mouthfeeling is full stickiness going on with a deep pungent throat feeling and long candy breath.  The Qi is really nice in the mind making it feel really still and contemplative.  It makes my thoughts run clear on a particularly crazy day at work. 

The third infusion has a big candy onset with a long finish.  There is some mild pungency in there, deep throat opening over a soft sticky full mouthfeeling.  There are some juicy fruity notes that appear in the aftertaste alongside candy.  There is a long sweet onset and finish with a nice alternating fruitier returning sweetness and almost woody base.  This is very nice stereotypical Yiwu GouYouLin that is pure long candy.  Qi has a calming and focusing with an open chest feeling.

The fourth infusion has a honey layered, fruity, and candy like triple sweet presentation.  There is a low pungency but basically just long layered sweetness that extends on the breath.  There is a tinny nudge of sour and wood kind of foresty taste underneath and a full feeling sticky sand mouthfeeling that stimulates the throat.  The Qi is really easy on the body and makes the chest feel softly opening.  The mouthfeel is really full and engaging and pushes the long sweet layered taste really far throughtout the taste profile and on the breath.  This Wa Long tastes much more like a Man Zhuan Gushu much sweeter and more elegant than my experience with Wa Long thus far and closer to my experience with some other Man Zhuan Gushu.  It would top what I’ve tired from Man Zhuan in the past.

The fifth infusion has a quick moving woody medicinal almost licorice onset with layers of honey, icing sugar and generic fruitiness.  There is a woody forest base and long sweet taste over a stimulating throatfeeling and full mouthcoating.  The long candy extends into the breath.  The Qi is focusing the mind and calming it making it still.  It kind of trances me out like in a meditation.

The sixth infusion is long candy like tastes with a bit of light honey as well.  Long sweet tastes with some woody notes. 

The seventh is again long unimpeded candy finishes which is long in the mouth and breath.  The mouthfeeling is a sticky almost tightness that stimulates the deep throat.  The effect is that saliva pools in the throat.  There is a slight mouth puckering feeling and minutes long candy and icing sugar taste.  It has a deep relaxing effect on the mind and body.

The eighth infusion has a bit of a bitterness and coco developing which pushes out fruity tastes.  The mouthfeel is slightly tight sticky and stimulates the throat and candy and coco breath finish is in the works here.  It’s long and sweet and almost woody.  Minutes later a honey taste fills the mouth penetrating the saliva.

The ninth infusion has a honey like onset taste with mild coco bitter and almost fruit developing. There is a long mild coco that doesn’t out due the candy, honey, but kind of mingles with the woody tastes of this puerh.  The profile feels more Wa Long now in the mid-profile with a bit of mild bitter coco in there.  Qi is nicely focusing.

The 10th infusion has a woody bitter coco onset with some honey and fruit underneath.  The sweet taste is less than the bitter coco woody forest taste.  The mouthfeeling has changed to a chalky slight tight feeling.  The pungent coolness is also stronger here.

The 11th infusion has a sunny bitter coco onset with nice smooth pungent coolness with hints of honey and fruit.  The candy finish is much less but still quite long.  The mouthfeeling is a stimulating but light tight chalky.  The aftertaste is developing a coco almost floral edge.  There is lots of depth and complexity here in the mid-session.

Things get terribly busy and I left to leave the tea table and step back in tomorrow…

The next day I do anther steeping and the overnight leaves give off a very fruity taste of grape with faint underlying coco.

I throw the rest into a mug and grandpa steep it for a while…

It gives off an oily vegetal icing sugar sweetness with moderate bitterness but less coco taste and a foresty pungent bitter sweetness.  The throat feeling is deep where a deep pungency lies but there is an overarching icing surgar very sweetness.  There is still a lot of stamina and depth left in these leaves that were mugged at the 13th steeping.

Overall, this is a really nice GuoyouLin for Wa Long.  I think it is priced really nice for what you get.  It changes quite a bit through the session which keeps you engaged.  It starts off as a very typical very high quality Yiwu type of GuoYouLin- very long candy sweetness uninterrupted in its long elegance with a slightly mood altering very calming and still feeling Qi.  I initially thought this was going to be one of those really typical expensive tasting pure long sweet elegant GuoYouLins.  Then it starts to slowly transform into a deeper and bitterer taste profile without fulling losing its long sweet elegance.  It gradually reveals its power while remaining very relaxing and calm.  Overall, this has a distinct Man Zhuan taste and feel and is a type of puerh I have very little of.  The price is quite good being that it kind of preforms a lot like a more expensive Yiwu GouYouLin initially then starts to reveal its power later.  In this way I think it might be nice to age as oppose to some other more one dementional GuoYouLin.  I still have not tapped into what this puerh does in the late sessions.

Vs 2020 Tea Encounter WaLong GuoYouLin.  The Tea Encounter has a more hazey feeling and downer Qi sensation.  It also has more stability over the infusions as well as more up front cherry sweet and bitterness.  In some ways it is stronger than the 2018 Puerist and more obviously WaLong.  The Puerist has much more elegance and evolves nicely throughout the session.  It also has more going on with the mouth and throat feeling is sweeter Man Zhuan through and through.